Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fleece Applique Technique

A couple weeks ago I posted this tutorial at UCreate. Time to post it on my blog as well, with a few more details!

Here's what you need to make a "fall leaves" throw:

~ basic fleece throw
~ fleece scraps in fall colors
(you might consider using dollar store
fleece scarves instead of scraps)
~ interestingly-shaped leaves
~ white or light-colored tissue paper
~ safety pins
~ a free-motion foot (sometimes called a darning foot) for your machine

Let me tell you why you need a free-motion foot!

This is a free-motion foot. It is a PRICELESS addition to your sewing arsenal! If you don't have a free-motion foot, consider purchasing one. It will open a WORLD of sewing possibilities! This is the foot you use for machine quilting, free-motion embroidery, cutting corners when you're being lazy (one of my favorite uses!), and -- of course -- my fleece applique technique!

Let's get started on that throw:

STEP ONE: Trace your leaves onto regular paper. These will be your patterns.

STEP TWO: Lay a sheet of tissue paper over your patterns and trace, using a pencil. You will want to leave some space between each traced leaf.

STEP THREE: Cut around one of your tissue paper leaves, leaving enough of an edge for you to place pins in. Place the tissue paper leaf over a scrap piece of fleece on top of your throw, and pin in place.

STEP FOUR: THIS IS THE FUN PART!! Lower the feed dogs on your machine. This will stop the machine from feeding the fabric through, leaving your hands to maneuver the fabric however you like -- even left to right!

It is a little difficult to explain in writing/with pictures how to maneuver around those shapes, so I made a short video showing how to do it.
** Please excuse my laughing children in the background! :oD **

Can you see why I LOVE my free-motion foot??
(You may want to practice this a few times before starting on your actual project.)

Here are a few tips on free-motion sewing:
* Try to match the speed of your hands with the speed of the needle. You determine the stitch length this way.
* It is a good idea to practice! For your trial, use fabric the same thickness as your project. For example, if you are quilting, sandwich a piece of batting between a two pieces of fabric for your test.
* Practice different motions: zig-zags, swirls, straight lines, etc.
* Get really comfortable with free-motion sewing before you jump into a big (or expensive!) project.

Okay, back to the throw!
STEP FIVE: Tear away the tissue paper. Sometimes a little tiny bit of paper will get stuck under a single stitch. You can use a toothpick or the point of some very fine scissors to coax it out.

STEP SIX: Cut away the excess fleece. Fleece will not fray, so you can get right up next to your line of stitching. Be careful not to snip the throw beneath! I use very sharp, fine scissors for this step.

Ta-da! A perfect little leaf!

STEP SEVEN: Continue adding leaves wherever you like on your throw, turning them different directions to make them look like they are falling. I like to attach them all like this, then do all the tearing and trimming while watching a movie with my husband!

STEP EIGHT: If you like, you can go back and add veins to your leaves. Use your free-motion foot for this, too! I start and end at the stem and do each leaf's veins in one continuous line.

I started on the bottom edge, then spaced them further and further apart as I went up to make them look like they were falling. I also washed the throw after I was finished to get rid of wrinkles and "fluff it up."

This fleece applique technique can be used for many other projects, simple or complex. Here are a couple other things I've made:

Complex shapes like snowflakes, although more time-consuming, are not difficult to do.

You can even layer different colors for more intricate detail!

I have also used this technique to add fleece appliques to my kids' clothes. I love adding little flowers to the hems of my daughters' pants!

You can also pair this technique with making quilts. After basting a quilt you can attach your applique at the same time as quilting!

I hope this post will help convince you to try out a free-motion foot. It really does open a whole world of sewing possibilities!!


Melissa said...

I definitely want to buy a free-motion foot now. I love this tutorial. It is really neat!

willow and moo said...

What a super adorable blanket! I love the falling leaves.

Kileen said...

I love the throw with Peep, Chirp, and Quack! So very cute!!!

Hannah Stevenson said...

AWESOME! I love this! Thanks for the video I now know what my next purchase at Joannes will be.

Samantha said...

Awesome tutorial! I'm scared of a free motion foot though...but it may be a heck of a lot quicker than hand sewing leaves on!

Heather - said...

Cool, thanks for sharing more of your technique! I like the snowflake + ball fringe together.

Anonymous said...

Great tips. I'm going to try using the paper pattern.

Creations By Hand said...

Beautiful work! My almost 4 year old is jumping up and down with excitment over your Peep and friends :-)

23rdspiral said...

wow! that's so cool! thanks for the great tutorial, and also for inadvertantly explaining what that odd shaped foot is that came with my machine! i'm going to go try it right now!

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